The news stand outside King’s Cross station
Published: 23 May, 2013
by DAN CARRIER
FOR five decades the Willson family’s King’s Cross newspaper kiosk has been one of the first places in London you could grab copies of the morning newspapers – but now they fear their days are numbered.
The family newsagents have been told their booth, which stands by the Euston Road entrance to the tube station, is going to be scrapped due to new designs for King’s Cross, and they will have to bid against national newsagent chains to trade in a new shop in the station.
The Willsons have managed the news stand since 1969 and provide a living for three families who work in shifts.
It is well known among Fleet Street hacks and senior politicians as one of the first places in the country to get the early editions of newspapers.
In the pre-internet age, reporters would wait at the stand to get a peek at rival titles – and lift stories for their own second editions.
Politicians would send aides to check out the day’s hottest stories and check for any scandals brewing.
Part-owner Eugene O’Regan told the New Journal they were having their livelihoods stolen from them.
He added they had taken legal advice and would seek a High Court injunction if they were forced to move.
He said: “It is clear our kiosk would not fit in with the swanky new designs for the front of the station, so we offered to design a new kiosk.
But we have since discovered that Camden Council and Network Rail have no interest in letting us trade beyond the redevelopment.
"They have told us our days are numbered.”
He said new plans show Network Rail plan to build their own kiosk just 25 yards away from their pitch later this year.
Mr O’Regan added: “They are trying to get rid of us so they can make more money.”
He added that claims from council officers that they would be in the way of passengers getting in and out the station were “preposterous”, as a new square currently being built opens up the area to provide 7,000 square feet of open space.
Town Hall regeneration chief Councillor Valerie Leach said: “The current proposals for King’s Cross station will see, for the first time in 150 years, restoration of the grade-I building and a new public space created.
"To prevent congestion and maintain pedestrian safety, we are in discussions with the trader currently at this site about an alternative location for their business.”
A spokeswoman for Network Rail said: “The new King’s Cross Square will open up the area in front of the station, revealing the magnificent Victorian facade for the first time in 150 years.
“We recognise the need to provide people with access to high-quality retail, and new retail units have been carefully incorporated into the design, which was widely consulted upon and supported by local authorities, passengers and the local community.
“We have invited the owners of the King’s Cross News Stand to apply for one of the new retail units on the square and will consider the application fairly.”